Doing It Her Way



They did it once: William and Kate caught the world off guard when they announced their betrothal. Now they plan to do it again, on a grander scale, by keeping their guests guessing right up until they file into Westminster Abbey on April 29. “Prince William and Catherine are keen that some things be a surprise for that day, for their friends and family and those watching around the world,” says a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman. PEOPLE has the early scoop:

1 The invitations Are Out!

A LUCKY 1,900 royal insiders just received their golden tickets-literally. The 8-by-6 white cards sent “in the name of Her Majesty The Queen” arrived via first-class mail-her insignia die-stamped in gold then burnished, the beveled edges gilded. Says one well-connected recipient: “It’s the thickest invitation I have ever had. There’s gold leaf all over it. Proper royal family stuff.”

Knight of the Garter William was appointed to this ancient order by Queen Elizabeth in ’08.

The Queen’s Man “Commanded by The Queen, ” this senior royal household official (a.k.a. the Earl Peel) holds a position that dates back to the Middle Ages.

The Right Stuff A member of the Lord Chamberlain’s office places wedding invitations in envelopes on Feb. 16.

Morning Coat A long coat with tails, de rigueur at upper-crust weddings.

Uniform Prince William (a flight lieutenant in the Royal Air Force) will opt for military dress.

Lounge Suit Transatlantic translation: business attire.

2 THE GUEST LIST Who’s in and who’s out?

PEOPLE IS ASSURED that the Beckhams made the cut (David and Prince William “became close” through World Cup soccer, says a royal source). But reps for rumored guest Kanye West could not be reached. The Obamas will be absent April 29, as will-notably-the groom’s aunt Sarah Ferguson. The couple’s hip exes will likely attend (“They’re still friends with people from that group,” says a royal source), as will heads of their favorite charities and royals from around the world.

The Obamas


The Duchess of York


Kanye West


David and Victoria Beckham


Elton John and David Furnish



POSH AND BECKS ASIDE, “it’s not a star-studded event,” says a source. In fact, friends seated in the nave may have no view of the altar. And while 50-plus royals and the Middletons will flank the couple, adds a Palace source, “you can’t assume they’ll use a hierarchical [seating] plan.”

[The following text appears within a diagram. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual diagram.]

Westminster Abbey




(4) SANCTUARY LEFT: The Bride’s Side

(5) SANCTUARY RIGHT: The Groom’s Side



Her Royal Highness ____

THE WORLD has been waiting eight years for William to make Kate a princess. But what if-horrors!-she ends up a duchess? Queen Elizabeth will probably bestow upon William a dukedom (maybe Cambridge or Sussex). In that event Kate “would formally be referred to as HRH the Duchess of Cambridge,” says Clive Cheesman of the College of Arms. But “because she’s married to a prince,” Cheesman assures, “she would still be a princess.” Whew!


FORGET ABOUT KATE. Her folks, Carole and Michael Middleton, really have the high-pressure job: introducing themselves to the Queen on the big day. They joined a shooting party at Balmoral at Will’s invitation, but she wasn’t on hand. Carole has already taken flak, for apparently chewing gum at William’s 2006 graduation from Sandhurst military academy (a source contends it was a lozenge). So wouldn’t the future in-laws want to do a quick meet-and-greet dry run? No, says a Palace spokesman: “But if the Queen chooses to do so, it will be a private matter.”


By Sedan?

KATE WILL AVOID the perils of squeezing into a glass coach (in 1981 there was barely room for Lady Diana and her father, let alone her gown’s 25-ft. silk taffeta train) by taking a car to Westminster Abbey. As a Palace source explained, “Catherine opted for a slightly lower-key arrival. She felt she would be arriving as Miss Middleton and leaving as HRH whatever, so that was the thinking behind it.” But the public will still get their princess-in-a-carriage moment when William and Kate leave the abbey.


ON THE BIG DAY, Kate will surely have professional help with a tiara-friendly coiffure-most likely courtesy of her hair guru James Pryce of the Richard Ward salon-but she doesn’t have a pro putting together the outfits that have made her a fashion icon. And she did her own makeup for November’s engagement announcement, with glowing results. Despite rumors of spa days, Kate rarely indulges in manicures or beauty treatments. Says a source: “She does all the rest herself.”

8 NEWLYWED PLAN: Do It Yourself

A HOUSE FULL OF SERVANTS-that’s what you get when you marry a prince, right? Wrong. Turns out William and Kate so love the simple domestic life, they plan to do chores themselves. The couple, who mostly live together on weekends in a four-bedroom farmhouse in North Wales, “have no domestic staff and no plans for that to change,” says a Palace source. Adds another insider: “She was spotted shopping in Waitrose [the local supermarket] the other day. That would tell you all you need to know about how they lead their life.” While their wedding banquet will no doubt be a feast to remember, it’s unlikely they’ll enjoy gourmet cuisine when it’s William’s turn at the range: He’s been spotted picking up canned spaghetti and ramen-style Pot Noodles.

9 A DAY (AND NIGHT!) of Parties

Queen Elizabeth will kick things off with a post-ceremony wedding breakfast of champagne and canapes for 600. At 7 p.m. Prince Charles will host a dinner dance (possible location? The Picture Gallery, above), for which Kate-and some 300 guests-will change into evening gowns. Bye-bye Boujis; Hello, Buckingham Palace.

10 NO SCHOOL For Royals

Sophie Countess of Wessex

Camilla Duchess of Cornwall

PRINCESS TRAINING AT BUCKINGHAM PALACE? Remember those reports that Kate was being intensively schooled, even shown videos, to get her royal manner down? Not so. “We don’t sit down and give people etiquette lessons,” says a Palace source. Instead, Kate is getting broad, informal guidance on matters royal from William’s private secretary, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, and subject-specific tutorials from the prince’s outside-the-palace advisers on the military, church and charity. Unlike Diana, born an aristocrat but married at 20 and something of a naif, royal historian Hugo Vickers says there’s far less to worry about with 29-year-old Kate: “She’s come fully baked.”

Updated by Liz Corcoran
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